“We had no idea when I began Shelter in Place that it would become a way to reimagine life, or that the best part of that would be teaching others.”
This series is all about Libsyn podcasters. Its sole purpose is to introduce these awesome podcasts to the world as well as share their podcasting insight to empower the community!
Q & A with Laura from Shelter In Place
When did you start podcasting?
I published my first episode on March 17, 2020, day 1 of the pandemic.
Prior to that I had been working on another podcast that was a finalist for WNYC’s podcast accelerator contest in 2019.
I had 21 interviews in the can and plans to move to Mexico to finish the project — and then the pandemic put all of that on hold. I began Shelter in Place instead, a daily podcast that would change the course of my life forever!
What made you think about starting a podcast?
On March 16, 2020, we got the news that the San Francisco Bay Area was going into lockdown.
It was the first day my kids (ages 3, 6, and 8 at the time) were home from school. I was feeling pretty discouraged.
We’d moved from Minneapolis to California back in 2004 for me to get my MFA. After 8 years of siloing my writing to the gutters of parenting, I felt like a failure.
That afternoon as we were gearing up for lockdown, I went for a bike ride and was struck by an idea that felt like a gift. I’d start a daily podcast! I’d write a single draft of a personal essay about whatever was going on in my life that day, record it in one take, and press publish.
The whole thing would take me about an hour, and anyway, I’d just be doing it for a few weeks. (Ha!)
4 months and 100 episodes later, I’d given myself an education in audio. The podcast had become a way for me and my family to reimagine life even as it crumbled around us.
We had no idea when I began that it would become my full-time job, or that my husband’s layoff would propel him to join me in this work. We didn’t know that we’d take our family on a pandemic Odyssey from one coast to the other (and back again) in search of home. Or, that we’d start a training program to teach others what we’ve learned.
We’re celebrating 2 years and coming up on 200 episodes. We’re gearing up for the next big project (which we’ll reveal in our season 3 finale next month!).
It’s the best and hardest work I’ve ever done.
It’s given me joy and hope in a time when discouragement and defeat seemed to be crouching at my door.
I’m so grateful for that crazy idea that challenged me like nothing before, but that also gave me a new way to live.
What’s the name of your show and what is it about?
Shelter in Place is a narrative podcast about reimagining life through creativity and community.
In every episode, through open-hearted stories and intimate interviews, we’re exploring how to find joy and delight in the midst of the daily challenges we all face.
Ultimately it’s a show about escaping not out of life, but deeper into it.
What’s your podcast set up?
I record in my 100 square-foot backyard writing studio that has lots of hard surfaces (and occasional noises of airplanes and yard guys and garbage trucks). I have to do a little bit of work to get great sound (but it’s worth it!).
When I record my VO, it’s under a blanket fort with lots of pillows and soft-sided barriers. I also have an external monitor, which I need to see since all of our episodes are scripted.
Beginning in season 2, I also began using this mini portable vocal recording booth.
I use Sony MDR-7506 headphones (and love them! Thanks to Sony’s generosity, our Kasama Collective trainees get a free pair of these same headphones when they join our program).
For season 1, 2, and half of season 3, I used a Blue Yeti mic on a desk clamp with a shock mount.
I recently switched to the Shure SM7 after I started learning more about Shure’s mics from Laura Davidson. I met her at She Podcasts Live a few weeks after our show won the Shure “Changing the World One Moment at a Time Award” at the International Women’s Podcast Awards.
Lately I’ve been using Zencastr to record interviews, but I always use a backup recording too. I have the guest record directly into a DAW or I have them record their side of the conversation using the voice memo app on their smartphone.
I use the recording that sounds the best (which isn’t always the one you’d think!).
For audio editing, mixing, and sound design, I used Logic Pro X for a long time. I didn’t think I’d ever switch to anything else until I decided to give Hindenburg a try. They are a sponsor for Kasama Labs, the audio storytelling course I teach with my husband.
Our students get Hindenburg for free, so I figured I might as well learn it myself. Almost immediately, I was sold.
I hadn’t realized that, unlike other DAWs, Hindenburg is made for radio. This means it has everything you need to make really beautiful podcast episodes, but nothing to overcomplicate the process.
I bought my theme music off PremiumBeat. Since season 2, I’ve used the Storyblocks royalty-free music library for other music and sound effects.
How have you promoted your podcast?
I’m proud of the work we do and I want people to find the show. But ultimately, the whole reason I’m doing this in the first place is to make life just a little bit better for others.
Here are some of my favorite forms of connecting with listeners and other podcasters:
- Providing free webinars both independently and in partnership with the Skylark Collective.
- Being a guest on other podcasts and talking about why THEIR work is so great, too!
- Our weekly newsletter, where we share episodes, but also celebrate others in the industry and things people do that bring us joy.
- Promo swaps and episode swaps with other podcasts that have a similar heart.
- Collaborative episodes where we and another podcast drop the same episode in our feeds. (We did this last year with Future Hindsight and it was lovely.)
- Speaking at Podcast Conferences (including Podcast Movement Evolutions, Podfest, and She Podcasts Live)
- Partnering with other non-podcast organizations like Making Waves Studios (a women Latinx zumba studio). We’ve featured them in our episodes and they, in turn, have recommended Shelter in Place to all of their in-person and online classes.
- Getting to know the people who write podcast newsletters (and subscribing!). Some of my personal favorites are Paul Kondo’s Podcast Gumbo, Lauren Passell’s Podcast, the Newsletter, Arielle Nissenblatt’s Earbuds Collective, Karen Givens’s Narrative Beat, Clare Wiley’s The Audio Storyteller, and Steph Fuccio’s Podcast Editing Plus. These people make our work easier and better every single week!
- Joining movements like #ClaimPodParity, where we amplify each other’s efforts by coming together and celebrating voices and shows that can benefit us all.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
That the work will expand to fill whatever time you have.
And sometimes “good enough” is good enough.
That downloads and accolades are nice, but what keeps me going are the relationships. It’s the opportunities to support, encourage, and mentor others through our training intensive and audio storytelling course.
Even being an award-winning podcast in the top 1% globally does not automatically translate to making a living (but it’s still the best work I’ve ever done!).
That burnout is a real challenge for Indie podcasters, and we need to find creative solutions.
It’s okay to stop and rest.
That there is always another way.
And finally the podcasting community is the kindest, most generous group of human beings I’ve ever encountered.
Laura Joyce Davis went on a pandemic bike ride and was struck by an idea: she’d start a daily podcast — write a single draft of a personal essay about whatever was going on in her life, record it in one take, and press publish. Today, coming up on 200 episodes, her award-winning podcast helps listeners find creative solutions to connect with others. Not escaping life, but digging deeper into it. Join the fun! Listen to Shelter in Place on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
How might your singular everyday life experiences translate into helping others deal with theirs? Ever thought about all the people out there just like you? People who are aching to reimagine their lives and move forward in a deeper way? Why not reach them yourself? If you don’t know where to start, we can help YOU from soup to nuts with our Start Your Podcast blog series. If you are ready, we have the best podcast hosting plans around!